A holistic approach to growth

A holistic approach to growth

M. Balasubramaniam, CEO, CURA healthcare, aims to make it a Rs. 500 crore company by 2018 by expanding its geographical presence and increasing its product range

POORNIMA KAVLEKAR

Since its inception as a services company in 2001, CURA Healthcare has ventured further from selling CT and MRI machines to newer equipment, and it has grown to become a prominent player in the Indian medical equipment industry. In 2008, the company identified digital radiography (DR) as a potential opportunity and forayed into it. “There are about 60,000 X-ray machines (a primary diagnostic equipment) in India which need to be converted into digital mode,” says M. Balasubramaniam, CEO, explaining why this sector has untapped potential. It is currently the manufacturer and supplier of specialty patented products like the Dream ERA range of DR systems, mobile CR and other HF X-ray systems. Additionally, it is into pre-owned equipment processing and marketing of high-end imaging diagnostics systems including CT, MRI, Mammography and Bone Densitometers.

CURA is working with various hospitals and teaching institutions, where it is trying to build an industry-academia partnership. The company is getting key people on its medical advisory board so that they can help in identifying unmet medical needs and create products and solutions to address some of those needs.

In 2012, CURA was funded to the extent of US $9 million by Peepul Capital, with a fundamental objective of expansions into the DR and critical care space and also to grow the pre-owned equipments business. During this period, the company appointed Balasubramaniam as the CEO. Since then, he has set himself a goal of making CURA a Rs. 500 crore player in the next five years, by identifying a clear set of strategies including inorganic growth. Last year, Peepul Capital invested another US $6 million in the company to facilitate its acquisition strategy and build products, which have regulatory standards to help it expand in the export market (Asia and MEA). Accordingly, the company recently acquired DE Healthcare, which marked its foray into the ultrasound imaging industry.

Understanding CURA

CURA’s core business is DR, pre-owned equipments and services. In the pre-owned equipment space, the company has expanded into high-end MRI machines, apart from strengthening its presence in other core services. The company is also aiming to make healthcare affordable in the Tier-II and III markets through its pre-owned equipment. The company is able to offer higher technology equipment at lower cost but the challenge is also that the business has a low entry barrier. To combat this, the company has created a huge infrastructure for its pre-owned equipment segment by means of a 30,000 square feet facility in Pallavaram, Chennai.  “We have engineers who make sure that the equipment goes back to the customers in perfect condition. We also support them for the next four to five years,” adds Balasubramaniam. This strategy also ensures that the life cycle costs are lower.  The company has created a Centre of Excellence (CoE) of service where it repairs high-end PCBs, power boards and CT tubes, so that the cost of ownership is much lower which helps customers own high-end technology at lower costs. Its customers save almost 97 per cent uptime (that is the equipment installed function close to 97.5 per cent of the time). For its service-driven approach, the company was conferred a “service excellence award” from Brand Academy in 2013.

Last year, the company also invested in a 50,000 square feet manufacturing capability in Madras export processing zone (MEPZ). Apart from manufacturing of digital radiography products, the company also plans to start manufacturing critical care equipment like multi parameter patient monitors, bi-phasic defibrillator, stress test systems and ECG systems at this new facility.

While a majority of its revenue is from pre-owned equipments, this year on, CURA expects DR to contribute equally.  “The idea of having a manufacturing facility in MEPZ is to create India engineered products for the emerging markets. Currently we are getting regulatory approvals in place for these equipment,” shares Balasubramaniam. Over the next three years, the company expects 30 per cent of revenues to come from the export market. It aims to enter emerging markets in Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and possibly Eastern Europe.

Extending reach

As far as expansion goes, the company is venturing into new, emerging markets and adding new products like ultrasound equipment and critical care equipment. In the pain care space(a fast growing segment), the company has launched eZono, which allows anaesthetists to administer pain injections painlessly (with a single puncture) and saves almost 30 per cent to 40 per cent on drug cost.  The company has also launched Vinno, an Advanced RF platform based 4D Ultrasound machine.

“Going forward we want growth to come both from new markets and new products which will be through acquisition and own products,” states Balasubramaniam. Its entry into the DR market was through a tie-up with Korea-based SITECH Global (SG Healthcare) for technical know-how. And its entry into the ultrasound imaging industry was through the acquisition of DE Healthcare.

Typically, its customers are the government, corporate hospitals, private hospitals and diagnostic centre chains. “We have products in every segment. Pre-owned equipment does not go to the government sector. It goes to hospitals and clinics in the Tier-II and III segments,” says Balasubramaniam. He adds, “The biggest adoption in DR is happening in government and corporate hospitals where throughput is a challenge for them as they do more than 200 X-rays in a day,” he says. The company has installed DR in all corporate hospitals like Apollo, Miot, SRM and more and has a national presence.

CURA’s expansion plan is quite exponential. “We face intense competition and hence, we are differentiating ourselves through innovative solutions and making the product affordable not just with respect to the upfront cost, but also with the lifecycle cost,” says Balasubramaniam.

It is working with various hospitals and also teaching institutions like SRM where it is trying to build an industry-academia partnership. The company is getting key people on its medical advisory board so that they can help in identifying unmet medical needs and create products and solutions to address some of those needs. “We work with top clinicians and with institutions and develop applications specific to Indian markets,” shares Balasubramaniam.

Growth chart

CURA plans to make acquisitions a part of its growth strategy going forward.  The company is already growing its ultrasound imaging business (through DE Healthcare acquisition) by nearly 100 per cent this year by adding two new product ranges to its portfolio and taking the business pan India. With a presence in 21 locations and with over 50 service engineers, CURA is paving its way through this market. Balasubramaniam believes that acquisitions not only help in building capacity, but also brings on board great talent

The medical imaging and critical care space is growing at a compounded annual growth rate of 12 per cent to 15 per cent currently and over the next five years it is likely to grow at 18 per cent. CURA has also seen a good pace of growth during this period. From Rs. 35 crore in 2012-13, the company expects to close the current fiscal at Rs. 100 crore and by 2018, expects to touch Rs. 400 crore to Rs. 500 crore in revenue.   “With our investor supporting our growth, we are fast expanding into increasing our portfolio and capability. This will help in achieving our revenue goal and be one of the leading medical equipment companies in India within three years,” concludes Balasubramaniam.


Cura’s strategy to touch rs. 500 Crore in revenue by 2018 

Geographical Expansions

Enter emerging markets like Asia, the Middle-East, North Africa and possibly Eastern Europe.

Expect 30 % revenue from the International emerging markets in the next three years

Focus on Tier II and Tier III markets and make healthcare affordable in these markets through our products and solutions

Building value through innovative products and catering to unmet clinical needs

Expand portfolio through inorganic route as well and build the services business; Further establish the Centre of Excellence 


Product Expansions

Apart from manufacturing DR, started manufacturing critical care equipment and ECG in MEPZ facility in Chennai

Added new products in ultrasound market and critical care space.

Build India engineered products, which meets global regulatory standards to expand into International markets. 

Working with leading hospitals and teaching institutions to build an industry- academia partnership 

Create world-class infrastructure and increase the team’s capabilities 

Make products affordable not just on upfront cost, but also during the entire lifecycle cost of the product

CURA healthcare Healthcare healthcare products Peepul Capital